Susan Hart: Gluten-free focaccia bread is versatile, delicious

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I was thinking of something different to make for game-day gatherings. It had to be something tasty, make-ahead, simple and yummy. It also had to be gluten-free and possibly dairy-free as well. After pondering for a few days, it came to me.

It’s time to resurrect good old focaccia bread! It was everywhere in the early part of this millennium, but I’ve seen it less in recent years. It’s a no-fail yeast bread that’s great for dipping in soups, stews or oil and balsamic vinegar. It can be used for making panini sandwiches, or for creating a soft-crust pizza. It’s a staple in Italy, with regional variations and French adaptations.

Pictured is the pizza-style focaccia, topped with garlic béchamel, green peas, artichoke hearts and crispy prosciutto. Oh, and I garnished it with some chopped arugula after baking. But any favorite toppings will do if you go the pizza route with this focaccia.

Gluten-free focaccia bread

1 3/4 cups Help Yourself Gluten-Free flour mix, divided

1 1/4 cups warm water, divided

1 teaspoon agave nectar or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup corn flour (not meal)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Oil an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour mix, 1/2 cup warm water, agave syrup and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes bubbly. In the meantime, sift together in a large bowl 1 1/4 cups flour mix, corn flour, xanthan gum and 1 teaspoon salt. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg and add in 3/4 cup warm water, 1/4 cup olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

In another small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder and rosemary and set aside.

Mix the yeast sponge into the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and blend thoroughly. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 30 minutes. Stir it down and place the dough in the prepared baking pan. Brush the top with the oil/salt/garlic/rosemary mixture, cover it, and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

12 side servings or 4 sandwich-size servings.

For the pizza variation, after the first rising of the dough, stir it down and spread it into a rectangle on an oiled baking sheet (at least 8-inches by 12-inches), using a spatula dipped in water. Let it rise for about 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the dough, untopped, for 12 minutes. Add your favorite toppings and bake for 18-20 minutes more. The edges of the dough will be golden-brown and somewhat crispy. Serves 4 for a meal, more for appetizers.

Buon appetito!

Help Yourself — GF flour mix can be found at Great Basin Community Co-op in Reno and at the shop at Sierra Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Carson City. Or, you can order online at

Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 17 years. She can be reached at


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